Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Richard Harrison

Richard Harrison :

Richard Harrison : Allied Victory Medal

Allied Victory Medal

Richard was born in Salford, Lancashire. We don't know anything about his family or his early life.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914 Richard was living in the Manchester area and joined the 8th City Battalion that was being formed to allow local men to serve together. He enlisted in late November or early December 1914 and was given the service number 21663. This unit became the 23rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and Richard was assigned to III Platoon in A Company.

The 23rd Battalion was originally formed as a 'Bantam' unit, made up of men who were below the Army's minimum height requirement of 5 feet 3 inches. They had to be at least 5 feet tall, with a minimum chest measurement of 34 inches, rather than 33 for the rest of the Army. The intention was to recruit men who were short, but used to hard physical work.

Richard and the 23rd Battalion trained at Morecambe in Lancashire until June 1915, and then moved to Masham in Yorkshire. They moved to Salisbury Plain during August before sailing to France in January 1916.

We don't know anything about Richard's service in France. The 23rd Battalion played a small part in the Somme Offensive that began on the 1st July 1916. They fought in a number of battles during this campaign before moving to the Arras area in October. Over the next year Richard will have taken part in trench holding and small scale raids and attacks, but no major offensives.

The 23rd Battalion was one of the units in the 35th Division, which was entirely made up of Bantam soldiers. During December 1916 all the soldiers in the 35th Division were medically inspected to make sure they were fit enough to serve in the front lines. Out of around 19,000 men, nearly 3,000 were found to be unfit and removed. Richard was not one of them.

Richard continued to serve with the 23rd Battalion around Pontruet, Bibecourt and Peronne, amongst many other places. By October 1917 they were in the front lines near Langemark, Belgium. On the 22nd Richard and the 23rd Battalion took part in attack on German positions between two sets of fortifications called Aden House and Angle Point. The attack made some progress at first but the battalion was soon bogged down and under German fire. They were forced to retreat and lost 28 men killed, 120 wounded and 56 missing. Richard was one of those lost. We don't know how old he was when he died.

After the end of the war in November 1918 British soldiers buried in a number of small cemeteries or found on the battlefields in this area were moved to Poelcapelle British Cemetery near Ypres (now known as Ieper). Richard is one of 1248 men buried here. His modern grave reference is I. B. 6.

Richard's medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 1987. As well as his Allied Victory Medal, Richard was also awarded the British War Medal for his Army service.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council